Music finds Suitcase Junket’s Matt Lorenz in the oddest places


BG Independent News

Music has a way of finding its way into Matt Lorenz’ life.

suitcase junket3The creator of the eclectic one-man band Suitcase Junket started his musical adventure when his music-loving parents adopted an old piano. Lorenz also found the guitar that gave birth to Suitcase Junket. He found his own version of throat singing after taking a South Indian cooking class. He finds the suitcases that give the band its name and serve as percussion instruments at yard sales. He finds his lyrics in nonsense syllables he shouts while practicing.

From these rescues from the world’s musical dog pound, Lorenz creates his Swamp Yankee sound, a space age take on roots music.

Suitcase Junket will perform at the Black Swamp Arts Festival Sunday, Sept. 11, on the Main Stage at 12:30 p.m. and on the Family Stage 2:45 p.m.

Lorenz oddball approach to music making comes in part from his childhood fascination with how things work. He remembers once convincing a babysitter to let him disassemble the telephone. Both his parents were teachers – his mother homeschooled his sister and him – and were “pretty good sports.”

“My parents started taking me to the dump so I could bring home random things to take apart,” Lorenz said.

His parents also brought home a free piano. His sister, Kate, who is a few years older started getting lessons. “I couldn’t stay away from it,” Lorenz said. So he started taking lessons.

“My parents never played, but were huge music lovers and the house was always full of music. They were into the idea of us picking up those skills, so they were very supportive.”

He attended Hampshire College in Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley from 2000 to 2004 and studied experimental composition and adaptive music design.

For one project he and another student designed a pulley system that allowed a drummer who’d had his right leg amputated continue to play the bass drum on his kit. They expanded on that to develop a system to allow a double amputee to play drum set.

suitcase 2In 2005, he and his sister started a band, and when their drummer quit, he decided to put all his moving around on stage to use and provide the percussion for their group.

Those levers and pulleys come in to good use with Suitcase Junket.

That project started when he rescued an old moldy guitar and started “pulling songs from it.”

“Nobody knows where songs come from or how we come up with them,” Lorenz said. “Sometimes I find myself crediting the instrument.”

He rigs out his kit with those suitcases, brake drums, pots and pans, and other found objects. He even employs a baby shoe that both he and his sister wore.

He sings into his guitar drawing odd resonances from it, and creates multiple notes with his voices using his version of throat singing. It took him five years of practice, mostly while driving around in his car, to bring the technique to the point he would share it with listeners.

His lyrics lately have emerged from his yelling nonsense syllables, which he then translates into the quirky stories.

“The words have a found quality,” Lorenz said. “There is a certain freedom allowed when you don’t see the words as precious or you don’t have any ownership of them. They’re just this thing you kind of dig out of your subconscious.”